I got up early on my Saturday after suffering a nice headache during the overnight hours. I wanted to make the trek down to Wayne County to see my elementary school for the last time. The 8am wake-up call wasn’t a welcomed one. I knew if I did not force myself to show up for the auction they held, I’d regret it.
Our family has a lot of connections to the building. My grandparents both attended the classes there when it wasn’t just an elementary school. My mother attended elementary school there as did my sister and me. My mother even worked there.
The turnout for the auction was apparently good even with the weather being a little less than desirable. The rain, drizzle and colder temperatures may have kept some people sitting at home.
I knew I had to remember my camera for the occasion. I wanted to get some last shots of the place because the wrecking crew came to town to bring the building down.
The school has gone through some changes over the years. The district decided to put another classroom on the front of the building. They also added a place for kindergarten and space for an art room. Other than those additions, the building hasn’t seen a lot of remodeling over the years.
I didn’t attend kindergarten at the school. Instead, classes were held down the street in the United Methodist Church basement.
My first grade teacher was Mrs. Welday. I don’t have a lot of memories from that first year but I’ll never forget Stephen Bates and me playing Star Wars on the step in the classroom. We both had Stormtroopers and we had a fight over whose was whose. Mrs. Welday promptly came over to the step and took both of them away. Certainly, it was a lesson learned. I took a picture of the step and the classroom. You’ll see Mrs. Welday (now Bise) in another photo talking.
The room was on the end of southeast side of the building. I assume the steps were once used as away to get outside. I just remember the teachers opening them during the fall and the spring to increase the airflow through the rooms. There isn’t any air conditioning in the building and sometimes the place could get warm depending on the outside temperature.
My second grade room later became the room where I attended some of the classes for sixth grade. Mrs. Elzroth taught that grade. It was basically directly above my first grade classroom.
The blackboards you see at the front of the room would be where Mrs. Smith would write endless notes for us to write down in our journals about whatever subject she was teaching. I know everyone had writing cramps from trying to stay up with her pace. I can remember her being two boards ahead of me and needing to copy some of the notes from someone else.
During the second grade, I think I spent a lot of time on the opposite side of the building on the sick cot. You can see the space in the picture where the cot was, just above the stairs. I think my “sickness” was my way to get out of school. My aversion from education had nothing to do with Mrs. Elzroth. It had more to do with just being able to stay home and watch TV, I think.
We were one of the first classes to use a new room that was built in the front of the school. Mrs. Glessner, I think, was proud to have that as her room. It smelled like freshly laid carpet. It actually had carpet. Few other rooms in the place got that treatment. It also didn’t have the old slate looking chalkboards. It was a lot warmer than anywhere else in the building. Mrs. Glessner had an old bathtub that was covered in carpeting. I wonder if she still has it or where it went. It’s almost difficult figuring out which classrooms are which with all of the chairs, desks and cabinets being gone.
Just across from my first grade class was where Mrs. Renninger’s fourth grade classes were held. It had a step just like the first grade room. I remember switching to other classrooms during that year but I only think I had one other teacher, Mr. Forrer. I know I’ve written this in a past post but Mrs. Renninger’s lasting impression on me was reading “The Great Brain” series of books to us after recess. Mrs. Renninger wasn’t necessarily happy with my fidgeting. I apparently excelled at that during my fourth grade year.
Fifth grade took me upstairs and to the opposite side of the building to a room just on the other side of the sick cot. I was happy to have Mrs. Elzroth teaching my class again. She liked me and I liked her. We also got to change classrooms again to Mr. Ocepek’s room that was across the hallway. I got to talk to him yesterday and he’s changed a little bit but after a few words, you could certainly tell who it was. He talked about his poking sticks that would motivate kids when they weren’t listening or otherwise disengaged.
I didn’t have to go far for sixth grade, it was just one room down from my fifth grade classroom. Mrs. Carpenter taught the class. I believe it was one of the biggest rooms of the school. I wonder what it was back when the school had kids attending high school there. The room was next door to the office. A reason to behave and listen. Mrs. Carpenter had a reputation as being strict. I don’t remember a lot of kids getting out of line back in her classroom.
I didn’t get to spend a lot of the time during the auction in the rooms. A lot of people crowded the place looking, hopefully to take home some memories from the school. I did snap some shots of the lunchroom, the kitchen, music room, the speech room along with a couple other pictures I couldn’t pass up getting a snapshot.
The building served three generations of my family well. Soon, the demolition crews will come in and have their way. A park will be built on the property.
So long, Sterling Elementary…